“Kittinger followed this flight with two more. Excelsior II launched on December 11, 1959 and rose to a height of 74,700 before Kittinger left the gondola. His final flight in this series, Excelsior III, took place on August 16, 1960. Kittinger piloted his craft to an altitude of 102,800 feet before exiting the open gondola. On the descent Kittinger became the first man to exceed the Speed of Sound without an aircraft or space vehicle. It is still the highest parachute jump ever. The freefall lasted four minutes and thirty-six seconds, a record.”
How did he manage this without being torn apart like some mid century aircraft did? One of the problems that certain aircraft had in power dives was not being streamlined enough to handle the transition from sub to supersonic.
So the human body is streamlined enough? (I guess so, Joe survived.) Were his drag chutes automatically deployed? Did he have to move his his arms in order to pull some rip cord?
I’m not doubting this happened. I can find all sorts of cites online about, as well as a couple of books I have mentioning it. And I just saw some snippets of the film he made of it on some cable science show. But it’s the details that have me flummuxed. Just what were the mechanics of his being able to do this?
19 miles! Straight down, baby!